Building firms axe union fee

Swedish construction companies are to stop deducting union fees from the pay of non-unionised employees, following a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.

The decision by building industry organization Sveriges Byggindustrier (BI), goes against the Byggnads union. Byggnads said that its interpretation was that the court had allowed it to continue charging non members ‘inspection fees’, as long as they were property accounted for.

“We have listened to Byggnads but they’re argument doesn’t hold. Collective agreements cannot be put ahead of the law,” said BI’s Bo Antoni.

The inspection fees are 1.5 percent of a building worker’s salary. For an average worker this means a cost of 4,000 kronor per year. Byggnads earns 35 million kronor a year from the fees, according to BI’s calculations, although Byggnads says the figure is lower.

The inspection fees finance Byggnads’ operations to ensure that construction companies pay the correct wages.

Byggnads’ claim that the court’s ruling only required them to tighten accounting procedures was not accepted by BI.

“We have gone through all the question marks. Our view is that we must stop deducting the inspection fee for the non-unionised construction workers,” said Antoni.

BI has assembled a working group to put the changes into practice.

“They will handle the practical application. We don’t know who’s in the union or not. But regarding the judgment we have just got to get used to it,” he said.